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‘Almost 80% South Africans still waiting for Social Relief of Distress Grants’

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The Pay The Grants campaign was established through the Cash Transfers subgroup of the C19 People’s Coalition to amplify voices of those who have been left out or who are awaiting the lifeline during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Close to 80% of South Africans who are eligible to receive the Social Relief of Distress Grants have not received it, according to a grant tracking campaign. File photo: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town – Close to 80% of South Africans who are eligible to receive the Social Relief of Distress Grants have not received it, according to a grant tracking campaign that was started.

The Pay The Grants campaign was established through the Cash Transfers subgroup of the C19 People’s Coalition to amplify voices of those who have been left out or who are awaiting the lifeline during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Social Relief of Distress Grant was announced by the government following the proclamation of the National State of Disaster, which was supposed to be paid from May until October.

Pay the Grants member and senior researcher at the Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute (SPII), Sacha Knox, said that according to the the National Income Dynamics Study-Coronavirus Rapid Mobile (NIDS-CRAM) survey, around 3 million South Africans lost their jobs as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The survey looks at the socio-
economic impact of the pandemic and subsequent lockdown.

“We are literally in the midst of a severe humanitarian crisis. One in three people have lost their income in the context of Covid-19 and pre-
existing inequalities have grown. The job losses and the income losses are heavily concentrated among those who are already disadvantaged.”

According to the survey, out of the poorest 50% of people in South Africa, 39% are now unemployed or not receiving an income, she said. “The most vulnerable in our society are being disproportionately affected by Covid-19,” said Knox.

“Half of all households or 47% ran out of money to buy food in April. So people are in a very dire situation where they are not even able to feed themselves – and this is in the context of chronic unemployment and very limited social protection offered by our state, so people don’t have options to feed themselves and to feed their families.”

A significant number of the newly unemployed are in households with no grants, the survey shows. Knox said: “So I think we have to paint the picture of, there’s no such thing as handouts, we have a moral and an ethical responsibility to be providing adequate social protection to people when our state is in a situation of chronic unemployment.”

A lack of transparency and clarity is evident with regards to the implementation of the grants.

“Our estimates are that 15million people are eligible for the social relief grant and if only 4 million people have been paid out according to Sassa, 74% of people who are eligible for the grant have not received it.” Hindrances to people receiving the grant are lack of communication and clarity when applying and people being rejected for strange reasons.

Daddy Mabe, who represents the assembly of the unemployed at Pay The Grants, said: “History has shown that our government has a tendency of not implementing its own policies and worse, it has zero sense of empathy for the less privileged, hence the need for us to join others to help voice our plight and/or grievances.

“Our view is that the government has reneged on its commitment to pay the R350. Ordinarily, our government has no sense of shame or morals – it exists for itself and not for those it ought to be working for, so there is no way it will ever honestly and genuinely appreciate the harm it is doing to the marginalised by paying the R350 without any pressure – hence our participation in the coalition,” he said.

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